Follow us on Instagram
Try our daily mini crossword
Play our latest news quiz
Download our new app on iOS/Android!

Xaivian Lee to return to Princeton after withdrawing from the NBA Draft

Man in a black jersey on a basketball court looking to make a play
Lee averaged over 17 points per game and was a unanimous All-Ivy first-team selection last season
Ammaar Alam / The Daily Princetonian

Xaivian Lee will rock the Orange and Black for at least one more season.

On May 29, ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony announced on X, formerly Twitter, that Tiger standout Xaivian Lee would be withdrawing from the 2024 NBA draft and returning to Princeton for his junior season. 

ADVERTISEMENT

George S. Langberg — Lee’s agent — made the announcement to ESPN ahead of the 11:59 p.m. EST deadline on Wednesday, May 29 to withdraw from the draft.

“Xaivian [Lee] was able to make a strong impression throughout the pre-draft process that allowed him to have the choice to play in the NBA next season,” Langberg wrote to The Daily Princetonian. “Ultimately, we decided that it would serve him best to return to Princeton and have the opportunity to really propel his draft standing.” 

All the athletes who chose to remain in the draft are no longer eligible to play Division I basketball. It is common for players to return to college in hope of boosting their draft chances with one more attention-grabbing college season. Stars such as University of Alabama sensation Mark Sears, Villanova’s Eric Dixon, and Alex Karaban from reigning national champions UConn joined Lee and opted to hit the court as amateurs next season. However, some notable prospects, like USC’s Bronny James and Kansas Jayhawks’ Johnny Furphy, decided to stay in the draft in hopes their name is called on draft night.

Lee originally declared in early April, but made it clear he was going into the process “open-minded” and likely only testing the waters. 

“I’m entering this process … open-minded and I have intentions of coming back to school for sure," Lee told the ‘Prince’ in April.

ADVERTISEMENT

Throughout the process, Lee participated in pre-draft workouts with the Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers, and Memphis Grizzlies, as well as taking part in the G-League Elite Camp, where he battled other prospects for the attention of the 30 teams that compose the NBA.

Despite reportedly receiving guarantees from multiple franchises that they would sign him to a two-way contract worth over $500,000, Lee decided to stay at Princeton.  

“I have no doubt that Xaivian’s best basketball is ahead of him,” Langberg wrote.

“Xaivian had a great experience during the NBA Draft process and received tremendous feedback on where he is as a player right now and where he can get to,” men’s basketball head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 wrote to the ‘Prince.’

Subscribe
Get the best of ‘the Prince’ delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe now »

“I am excited that he’s back and will continue on that journey with us,” he added.

After coming off a summer that saw Lee lead the U19 Canadian National Team at the FIBA U19 World Cup, Lee had a breakout year at Princeton. He averaged over 17 points per game while grabbing over five rebounds and dishing out nearly four assists per game en route to a unanimous All-Ivy First-team selection.

With Lee returning, the Tigers will likely be the favorites to win the Ivy League in the coming season. As Princeton brought back two first-team All-Ivy players to fight another season, the Orange and Black’s chief competition all lost much of their top talent to graduation or the transfer portal, such as Yale center Danny Wolf leaving for the University of Michigan. Leading the team alongside Lee will be fellow rising junior forward Caden Pierce, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year. Lee and Pierce look to be one of the nation’s best upperclassmen duos and likely once again attract fans to Jadwin Gymnasium week in and week out, where the Tigers were undefeated this year during the regular season.

“The core of the team is returning and I’m thankful for that,” Henderson added. “It speaks to the leadership group we have here and the bonds that have been formed over the past years, the last two seasons especially.”

Despite the losses of seniors Matt Allocco and Zach Martini to graduation and sophomore small forward Jack Scott to the transfer portal, it is clear that the Ivy League will run through Central New Jersey for at least another year. 

Henderson noted, “I’m as focused and fired up for a season as I’ve ever been. You’ve got to appreciate the opportunity that we have.”

Hayk Yengibaryan is an associate Sports editor for the ‘Prince.’

Please send any corrections requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

Most Popular